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How to piss off a Texan

Matador Network - Wed, 12/02/2014 - 04:00

Photo: Thomas Hawk

Mess with Texas.

You most likely associate the phrase “Don’t mess with Texas” with cheesy t-shirts and that unmistakable brand of Texas swagger.

What you don’t know is that the slogan is the product of a 1980s anti-littering campaign and a federally registered trademark of the Texas Department of Transportation. The initiative is credited with cutting highway trash by 70% from 1986-1990.

So maybe the best way to piss off a Texan is to mess with our state — cruise down a Hill Country two-lane during wildflower season and throw your pickle juice and mustard-stained Whataburger wrapper out the window. Local law enforcement will be happy to collect the maximum $500 fine when they spot your out-of-state license plate.

Assume we’re all cowboys / dumb rednecks.

No, I didn’t ride a horse to school. No, I’ve never been on a working ranch. Automatically pegging Texans as backwardly rural, uninformed, or unworldly would be sadly missing the mark.

I’ve met more fellow Texans while traveling (places like South Korea, Argentina, Belgium) than I have people from any other state. And just a mile down the road from my house, at the University of Texas, researchers are at this very moment using over $600 million in annual research grants to analyze data from the farthest reaches of space, design the computers of the future, and develop groundbreaking biomedical technologies that may one day help cure cancer.

What a bunch of hicks.

Underestimate our geographic diversity.

The state borders encircle 268,580 square miles — that’s more than 100 Delawares.

In the East we’ve got the Piney Woods, a forest of pine and oak that covers 54,400 square miles (20+ Delawares, for those counting). The Great Plains of North Texas and the Panhandle comprise cotton fields (Texas is the largest US producer) and other agricultural land. Out West things get pretty desert-y — oil wells share real estate with wind farms, and the Guadalupe Mountains rise to 8,750ft (over 2,000 feet higher than anything east of the Mississippi). The coastal plains of South Texas and the scrubby hills of Central round out the picture, but of course all this is still a gross overgeneralization.

Bottom line: Whatever image you’ve generated in your mind to define “Texas,” it’s woefully inadequate.

Say the whole state sounds awful…except for Austin.

We get it — the world has a hard-on for Austin. But that still doesn’t explain why, when I’m traveling around the US and tell someone I live in ATX, they invariably respond with some riff on the above.

You’ve just dismissed over 25 million people out of hand. Kind of a dick move.

Move to Austin from San Francisco or Brooklyn and then shit-talk the rest of the state.

Go home.

Call it “George Bush’s state.”

W was born in Connecticut. HW was born in Massachusetts. While there are likely hundreds of George Bushes from Texas, they’re clearly not the ones you’re thinking of.

This is not a political beef — just a matter of birthright and heritage. But since you brought it up, maybe I should remind you there were over 5 million of us who voted for the other guys in 2000 and ’04. That’s like, 6 Delawares.

Make an “everything’s bigger in Texas” joke.

This is the territory of souvenir bumper stickers and franchise steakhouse wall art. Your joke will not land.

Ask why we don’t have an accent.

Because I grew up in a suburb of the 7th largest city in the nation.

You really need to specify anyway — are you talking East Texas drawl or West Texas twang…or the Mexican / Hispanic flavor that’s probably a more accurate, 21st-century reckoning of the “Texas accent”?

Drive like a tourist.

I know — you are a tourist. But here’s a tip: When you’re on a country highway, taking your time, enjoying the pastoral sights, and you suddenly check your rearview to see an F-350 bearing down on your rear bumper, find a good spot to drift onto the shoulder a ways so that cowboy/girl can pass you more easily.

If you see the hazards blink or a hand wave through the rear glass, you know you’ve done good.

Mix up your NBA teams.

In San Antonio it’s the Spurs, in Dallas the Mavericks, in Houston the Rockets. There are no exceptions.

Sauce your meat.

Again, Texas is too big to have only one style of barbecue, but the Central Texas variety is currently ascendant — the main element of which is certainly not any kind of sauce.

When you order BBQ in Lockhart or Llano, in Luling, Taylor, or the hipster trailers in Austin, it’s all about the quality of meat, the wood used, and the cook time. Dousing that half pound of moist brisket in a pool of sauce is a kick in the spurs to the artiste behind the smoker. Go back to Kansas City.

Order a burrito.

Seriously? You came to the best place in the world to eat Mexican food outside of Mexico and ordered some Californian perversion of the real thing? There’s only one person who should be pissed off about that, and it’s you.

The post How to piss off a Texan appeared first on Matador Network.

PSA points out that the Olympics have always been kinda gay

Matador Network - Wed, 12/02/2014 - 03:00

THIS AWESOME NEW PSA from the Canada Institute of Diversity and Inclusion points out that the Olympics – in this case the luge – have always been a little bit gay. And they have a point: in the midst of all of the horrific violence being committed against homosexuals in Russia, it’s hard to see how homophobia fits into an international event predicated on tolerance and inclusion, and that has it’s roots in naked men wrestling.

If you want to do something for LGBT rights globally, try giving to the Human Rights Campaign, or at least follow them on Twitter.

The post PSA points out that the Olympics have always been kinda gay appeared first on Matador Network.

Profile of the traveler of the future

Matador Network - Wed, 12/02/2014 - 01:00

Photo: Elena Mitsura

TRAVEL TODAY seems almost impossibly removed from that of our ancestors. Imagine boarding a ship 150 years ago and knowing it might be years, decades before you’d ever see the people again who were kissing you goodbye — if you returned at all.

Following this same logic, our travels of today — studying places via Google Earth, creating digital boarding passes on our smartphones, blogging about our travels via words and images — all will surely seem as primitive and perhaps nostalgic to our descendants 150 years from now as our ancestors’ travels do to us.

And yet on some level, progress is an illusion. For every technological innovation gained, there’s a way of connecting or interacting that’s lost, forgotten. Take map reading skills, for example. Or being able to navigate by the stars.

What’s constant is the way travel feels. The inner landscape of emotions that reflects each part of a journey. Like the traveler of 150 years ago, the traveler of the future — even with the 6,000mph vactrains that take her from NY to LA in 20 minutes, the medicines that rapidly heal damage or disease, the cameras that capture and communicate data holographically — she will still have the same giddiness that comes before a trip, the same sense of resolution, of circularity, that arrives when you get home.

Even if that home is in outer space.

With all this in mind, here is a profile of the future traveler.

Photo: Valters Krontals

1. She’ll make intercontinental travel in a matter of minutes.

Right now our velocity as travelers is governed by friction and weather conditions. Future technologies will all but eliminate these. One technology already in design stages in China is the vactrain.

An idea that’s been around since the early 20th century, the vactrain is simply a train that operates within a vacuum tube. Instead of wheels, which are limited by friction (wear, heat, etc), the train would levitate on (and be propelled by) magnets. And because there’s no air resistance inside a vacuum, the train could reach speeds estimated at 5,000 to 6,000mph, allowing travelers to go from NY to Beijing in less than two hours.

2. She’ll have “smart” clothes.

Future travelers will look back at our “tech-integrated” clothing — jackets with special pockets and ports for iPods and earbuds — as more akin to animal pelts than the clothing they’ll wear.

Garments will both regulate conditions from the external environment — temperature, humidity, radiation, etc — as well as the internal environment. “Skin”-like primary layers will monitor vital signs and be able to apply pressure to areas to increase circulation or soothe inflammation. The fabrics will themselves be energy sources, generating solar power.

3. She’ll have various options for personal flight.

Photo: Zach Dischner

The current models of flying cars will look like Fred Flintstone-style vehicles to future travelers, who will not only have different types of personal transport vehicles, but actual suits that take the glide ratio of current wingsuit technology and expand it so people can literally “jump and fly.”

4. There will be no effort to creating “media;” it will come directly from her memory.

The whole notion of capturing media, whether by taking a photo or writing something down, will be replaced by the ability to simply download our minds’ observations, ideas, conversations, memories. And the approach by which we’re currently pursuing this today — through invasive implantation — will be long supplanted by noninvasive sensors that allow “connection” simply through brainwaves. The whole idea of “wires” will be looked at like the horse and buggy.

5. Language acquisition will give her nuanced appreciation of different cultures.

The finest points of travel may be the moments when you finally have enough vocabulary and time in another culture to where you begin to “get” cultural nuances. This is when things stop feeling “foreign” and suddenly take on a sense of identity.

Future travelers will be able to “train” themselves before traveling in languages in ways that bring together the physiognomy, the humor, and other elements of language acquisition that currently take years to master (unless you’re a kid), and compress them to incredibly short times.

6. Her concept of “home” and “lifestyle” will include many different places / possibilities.

Photo: Bashar Al-Ba’noon

Future travelers will move around in ways that seem only like lifestyles of the wealthy today. The reason? “Houses” will be hyper efficient, tradeable, and instantly ‘scanable’ for others to rent or homeswap at the drop of a hat.

Whereas now we look at “destinations” and “activities” as the touchpoints of travel, in the future we’ll be able to scan through menus of entire lifestyles, and inhabit them for different periods of time. Thus, our concepts of what’s “home,” of what’s “school,” of where we belong, will totally change.

This post is sponsored by SanDisk. Click through to read more of life’s stories, told from memory.

The post Profile of the traveler of the future appeared first on Matador Network.

Right time, wrong airport

Stuff Travel feed - Tue, 11/02/2014 - 15:59
On at least 150 flights over the last 20 years, US commercial air carriers have either landed at the wrong airport or started to land and realised their mistake in time.

First class all the way

Stuff Travel feed - Tue, 11/02/2014 - 12:23
The Brits would no doubt dismiss me as an "anorak", and, what's more, an antipodean one.

Days of wine tours and tastings speed by

Stuff Travel feed - Tue, 11/02/2014 - 11:50
I'm no wine connoisseur. I have enjoyed many a $10 bottle without wishing it was a $100 bottle.

Australia chases China tourism dollar

Stuff Travel feed - Tue, 11/02/2014 - 05:00
A Chinese tourism boom in Australia has left hotels and tour operators scrambling to adapt. They are hiring Mandarin speakers, changing menus and even adjusting the temperature on coach rides.

Air NZ offer spurned by public

Stuff Travel feed - Mon, 10/02/2014 - 16:54
Air New Zealand's social media activities have been brought back to Earth with a bump, after an offer of the chance to be a "volunteer writer-at-large" for the airline was widely ridiculed.

China's crackdown on nude sunbathers

Stuff Travel feed - Mon, 10/02/2014 - 16:52
Chinese authorities in the southern resort island of Hainan have announced a crackdown on nude sunbathers, with loudspeakers and surveillance cameras as well as police patrols being used to deter potential offenders.

Phenomenal colour change for famous NZ lake

newzealand.com press releases - Mon, 10/02/2014 - 14:43
A massive landslip has changed the face of one of New Zealand's most famous lakes.

Woman declares large package

Stuff Travel feed - Mon, 10/02/2014 - 12:09
When people declare food they're bringing into New Zealand officers at our borders don't normally expect to inspect donkey penis.

Airport shift proposal worth $500m

Stuff Travel feed - Mon, 10/02/2014 - 11:08
A proposal to relocate Wellington Airport to a site on the hills north of the suburb Newlands is worth investigating, Greater Wellington Regional Council chairwoman Fran Wilde says.

NZ scores high for hotel internet

Stuff Travel feed - Mon, 10/02/2014 - 10:51
New Zealand is ranked second worldwide for percentage of hotels offering internet access, according to a survey.

Five top surf spots for summer

Stuff Travel feed - Mon, 10/02/2014 - 10:24
Former pro surfer Laura Andon says once you're hooked, you'll be on a mission to search for the best wave.

Sevens costumes cause Jetstar delays

Stuff Travel feed - Mon, 10/02/2014 - 08:31
A safety-conscious Wellington Sevens outfit caused flight delays over the weekend.

Tourism groups: make trans-Tasman travel easier

NZ 3 News feed - Sat, 08/02/2014 - 07:35
Trans-Tasman travel barriers are being eased for cricket fans, but tourism groups want to see the streamlining continue.

Bed bug attacks on the rise

NZ 3 News feed - Thu, 06/02/2014 - 16:33
NZ's leading pest control agency say they've seen a 63pct increase in bed bug callouts in Auckland compared to the same time last year.

Winter storm upsets US flights

TVNZ Online Travel section - Thu, 06/02/2014 - 11:36
Air travel around the US has been disrupted for the third day in a row.

Newly hatched ‘Mini’ kiwi chick captures hearts

newzealand.com press releases - Wed, 05/02/2014 - 11:40
A tiny kiwi chick – believed to be the smallest of its kind in New Zealand – has successfully hatched at the Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua.

Glacial wonderland plays host to new marathon

newzealand.com press releases - Mon, 03/02/2014 - 15:50
New Zealand is proving itself to be a marathon bucket list destination with the inclusion of two inaugural marathons set for 2014.
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